People want to age in place. The problem is that the system of support services to facilitate aging in place treats symptoms not causes. It is also a siloed, fragmented system of care funded by many disparate sources. In this article we will define a vision for aging in place and look at some of the trends and opportunities for service providers.
How important is this? A survey by the AARP looked at the living arrangements desired by people 45 and older as they age. It revealed that “nearly three-quarters of respondents strongly agreed with the statement, “what I’d really like to do is stay in my current residence for as long as possible,” roughly two-thirds strongly agreed with the second statement, “what I’d really like to do is remain in my local community for as long as possible.” Another study by Clarity and the EAR Foundation showed that older people feared losing independence and going to a nursing home more than they feared death!
The MetLife Report on Aging in Place 2.0 examines the issue of aging in place in detail visioning a model in which “design, equipment, and comprehensive services are integrated into a dynamic and efficient monitoring and management system.
Progression of Services
Let’s look at what the progression of services someone like myself might need as I age.
- I choose to move to an active adult community to spend my years or I choose to stay in my current home.
- Choosing the latter, I retrofit my home to accommodate aging.
- I install technology that keeps me connected to health care providers, family, friends and hubs of care in the community.
- I start to notice I can’t keep up with all the household chores. I bring in non-skilled home care.
- Freed from some of that burden, I start to avail myself of community services using transport to take me to the senior center or adult day care center.
- I admit that I can no longer get out as often so I bring in services like meals-on-wheels and skilled home health.
- I choose to die in dignity with in-home hospice and palliative care.
While many of these services are available, the coordination of care and the mindset of the consumer to think their options through do not exist. There is no system of organization.
As MetLife notes, when these services are bundled together in a coordinated fashion they are often in long-term facilities where the tendency is to over care, providing too many services at too large a cost. And in the community it is just the opposite, people fall through the cracks and find it hard to arrange and manage services.
Each of the lifestyle progressions spell opportunities and occupations for aging service providers. Following the list above, resulting business opportunities might look like this:
- Home design, retrofitting, and maintenance for aging in place
- Health care technology solutions provider
- Non-medical home care
- Senior transport
- Adult day care and adult medical day care
- Skilled home health care
- Hospice and palliative care
The Vision for Aging in Place
MetLife describes a vision for aging in place where ”people live in the home of their choice equipped with tools and design features that support independence and assure that individuals and their caregivers are safe. Preventive medical care and wellness assistance encouraging self-management of health is available. Care, meal, supplies, transportation to appointments, and activities as well as social connections, etc. are all managed easily. Whew, that is a mouthful. But it is a great vision. Some of this of course is about care coordination.
Geriatric Care Manager – a growing profession
According to the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers, “a Geriatric Care Manager is a health and human services specialist who helps families who are caring for older relatives. The Geriatric Care Manager is trained and experienced in any of several fields related to care management, including, but not limited to nursing, gerontology, social work, or psychology, with a specialized focus on issues related to aging and elder care. The Geriatric Care Manager is an experienced guide and resource for families of older adults and others with chronic needs, including helping those suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease or Parkinsons or exhibiting symptoms of dementia. It is a growing field worth investigating.